GOLD Coast Suns will make history on Saturday afternoon, wth their inaugural AFL Women’s finals appearance also marking the first Suns finals berth in league history. The Suns are also the only 2020 expansion side with a finals opportunity but they come up against a tough opponent, taking on undefeated Fremantle in uncharted territory at Fremantle Oval – though having the Dockers faithful watching from home may help steer the ship the Suns’ way.
Fremantle v. Gold Coast Suns
Saturday, 21 March, 4.40pm AEDT
The Suns will hope for a miracle when they take on the Dockers, with the home side boasting both confidence and stellar form this season. Fremantle will hope to iron out any issues early this time around, with potential flashbacks from their semi-final loss to Carlton in 2019 setting in on the eve of the match. The talent the Dockers have at their disposal this season – despite losing players to expansion team West Coast Eagles – will have the side quietly hopeful especially given their season form. Freo will need to ensure they hit the targets up forward and maintain that intensity that has gotten them to this point, with a shared effort around the ground allowing the Dockers to apply forward pressure. Kiara Bowers continues to be the leading tackler in the competition, averaging 14.2 to go with her 16.8 disposals while Gemma Houghton has had some solid moments in a real shared effort across the ground, averaging 4.8 score involvements, 3.8 marks and 7.5 contested possessions. Youngster Mim Strom has impressed in the ruck with an average of 16.7 hitouts while Philipa Seth and Angelique Stannett have proved useful with their timing and ability to find the footy and impede the opposition.
With only two wins and a draw going the Suns’ way this season, the team will need to draw from its experienced players to hold off a hungry Fremantle forward line. Kalinda Howarth has proved she can be a real threat for the Suns, and while she hasn’t kicked goals in every game this season she has been a real playmaker averaging 3.0 score involvements to go with her averaging of 1.5 goals per game – marked up from last round after a remarkable four goal haul. Jamie Stanton continues to be a real target around the ground not only for her teammates but also the opposition, leading majority of the stats for the Suns including disposals (averaging 17.7) and contested possessions (10.2). Jacqui Yorston and Jade Pregelj have been a couple of handy pickups over the offseason, with the pair playing at different ends of the field but both having a real impact on and off the footy, with Yorston hitting 7.5 tackles and Pregelj on 7.3 intercept possessions to go with her 3.7 rebounds. Lauren Bella will hope to continue her solid season form, averaging 18.8 hitouts to be the leading ruck in the competition.